The Necessity of the OASIS: Ready Player One
In Ready Player One, the main character, Wade, uses the OASIS in order to escape the depression and hopelessness that he would have inevitably faced in the real world, as shown through his mother and aunt, but he ends up needing the OASIS to find friendship and hope and, ultimately, an escape from the OASIS itself.
Wade has gone through a lot of tragedy throughout his life and he would be in a position to go through more without OASIS. Wade was “the only child of two teenagers, both refugees who’d met in the stacks where [he’d] grown up” (Cline 19). The stacks are a bunch of RV’s and/or trailers that are stacked on top of each other. Wade’s aunt owned a trailer, which housed “a total of fifteen people” (18). Wade didn’t grow up with much of a family, because his mom passed away when “she shot a bad batch of something into her arm” (23). He also “[doesn’t] remember [his] father” (20), because “he was shot dead while looting a grocery store during a power blackout” (20).
Wade seems to be fed up with how the “adults were bullshitting [him]” (21). He’s just now learning about global energy crisis and he can’t come to any other conclusion than “the future doesn’t look too bright” (22). All of the anger and confusion that he’s feeling causes him to doubt his previously instilled religious beliefs. He believes “the whole God thing is actually an ancient fairy tale that people have been telling one another for thousands of years” (21). The only escape that Wade has from all of the “total bullshit” (21) is the OASIS.
Wade uses the OASIS to get to a better place in life and to escape the fact that “growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth” (20). Wade hid his OASIS in “a small open space at the rear of a buried cargo van” (28). With the cities being so crowded, Wade knew he’d “found something of immeasurable value: privacy” (29).
In order to further convey how much better he felt in the OASIS, the OASIS is “the setting of all [his] happiest childhood memories” (23). After all, this was where he met Aech, whom Wade had “known Aech for a little over three years” (41). They met in a “public gunter chat room and hit it off immediately” (41). Aech was also a “true Halliday scholar” (41) and “he’d been [Wade’s] closest friend ever since” (41). He also met his girlfriend in the OASIS. Every single time he logged on, “[his] mood brightened at the prospect of seeing Art3mis again” (141). It got to a point where he was addicted to the OASIS. Wade went to Columbus, but he had to go there in real life, so he was cut out of the OASIS. He “forced [himself] to take deep breaths and tried to calm down” (155). Once he got to his apartment and logged back into the OASIS, “everything would be all right” (155).
The OASIS ends up serving a bigger purpose for Wade than his original intention by freeing him from the OASIS itself. Wade finds so much through the OASIS that he realizes that the OASIS doesn’t matter. Level Two in the book begins with a quote from Groucho Marx: “‘I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal” (156). This is foretelling of the rest of the book, because Wade realizes how much he needs the outside world. Wade strengthens his friendships between Aech and Art3mis throughout level two by having a common enemy, Innovative Online Industries.
Innovative Online Industries is a “global communications conglomerate and the world’s largest Internet service provider” (36), who, if successful, would charge people real money for goods and services. They hired professional Sixers, “the derogatory nickname gunters had given to employees of Innovative Online Industries” (36). The Sixers would try to find the egg for IOI and then give control of the company over to them. The Sixers were very deemed sellouts by the real gunters. In fact, “most gunters referred to them as ‘the Sux0rz.’ (Because they sucked)” (36). The Sixers give Wade and his friends a common enemy and the egg gives them a common goal, so they worked together.
Wade met up with Aech before he found the egg, but he wasn’t exactly what Wade had imagined. In fact, Aech is a “young African American woman” (293). Aech’s real name is Helen Harris, and “she was only a few months older than [Wade] was” (294). Helen’s father “had died in Afghanistan when she was still a baby” (294) and her mother “kicked [Helen] out of the house” (295) for revealing that “she’d been dating a girl she met online for nearly a year” (295). Helen “earned enough in the OASIS arena leagues to buy [her] own RV, and [she has] been living in it ever since” (295). Surprisingly, Aech being a girl didn’t change Wade’s opinion of her, because they had “connected on a purely mental level” (295). They had “known each other for years, in the most intimate way possible” (295). After Wade’s assumptions of Aech’s physical appearance were shattered, “none of that had changed, or could be changed by anything as inconsequential as her gender, or skin colour, or sexual orientation” (295).
Wade then finds the egg, with the help of his friends, and meets up with Art3mis, whose real name is Samantha. Samantha “looked just like she had in the photo [Wade had] seen” (339). They were nervous at first, but after a while, “most of the tension in the air dissipated” (339). Wade’s reaction to Art3mis in real life was similar to Wade’s reaction to Aech in real life, because neither of them really had an affect on Wade. Wade was madly in love with Art3mis in the OASIS and now he is madly in love with Samantha in real life. His “heart felt like it was on fire. [He] took a moment to work up [his] courage; then [he] reached out and took her hand” (340).
Wade had entered the OASIS in order to escape his depressing home life and that’s exactly what he did, just not in the way he had imagined. The OASIS started as an escape from his life, but soon became his life. Everything that he loved was in the OASIS, all of his memories, and all of his friends. His journey back to the stacks every night was basically just a loading screen for the next day when he could get back on the OASIS. Every single day was spent searching for Halliday’s easter egg, going to school, or hanging out with friends. However, every single one of those good memories were spent inside the OASIS. Wade was “[Samantha’s] best friend, [her] favourite person” (340).
Wade ends up finding friendship and hope in the OASIS, even though he went searching for an escape. If he didn’t have the OASIS, he, most-likely, would have fallen down the same hole as his mother and aunt, the infinite void of abusing drugs and wallowing in self-pity. He ends up finding friendship in Aech, who is Helen Harris, in Art3mis, whose “real name [is] Samantha Evelyn Cook” (268), and in Shoto, who they met along the way, whose real name is Akihide Karatsu. Wade ends up finding hope in the egg hunt, which occupied his every waking hour. He also ends up escaping the OASIS through both of these things and “for the first time in as long as [he] could remember, [he] had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS” (340).
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